Editors' pick

The Wild Child

The Wild Child movie poster
MPAA rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama
A reissue of Truffaut's 1970 film about an 18th-century boy who grew up without human contact and the doctor who vowed to "civilize" him.
Starring: Jean-Pierre Cargol, Francois Truffaut, Francoise Seigner
Director: Fran├žois Truffaut
Running time: 1:26

Editorial Review

Nearly 40 years after its initial release, Francois Truffaut's "The Wild Child" ("L'Enfant Sauvage") still manages to cast its haunting, poetic spell. Based on the true story of a boy who lived a solitary and feral existence in a forest in France until his discovery in 1798, the film stars Truffaut as Jean Itard, the young doctor who undertook to take in the child, whom he calls Victor (played by Jean-Pierre Cargol), and teach him to communicate.

Filmed in crystalline detail by the great Nestor Almendros, "The Wild Child" is so thoroughly transporting that viewers can be forgiven for forgetting that they're not watching a movie made in the 18th century. (Its script, narrated in voice-over by Truffaut, is largely taken from Itard's notes about the case.) As visually stunning as it is, though, the film's most enduring gift is the simplicity and sensitivity with which it was made by Truffaut. In the filmmaker's caring hands, Victor's story becomes the tale not of how a heroic man "civilized" an untamed creature, but how with love and patience Itard and his housekeeper, Madame Guerin (Francoise Seigner), taught a cruelly abandoned boy to think of himself as worthy of compassion.

-- Ann Hornaday (Dec. 19, 2008)

Contains partial nudity.